Commemorate the 30th anniversary of the destruction of the Berlin Wall in this exciting world premiere of rock musical “A Wall Apart” at the Grand Theatre.
Sam Goldstein and Craig Clyde collaborated with Air Supply’s Graham Russell to bring their book to life, with original songs played by a live rock band on stage. With the Grand Theatre’s intimate backstage, every seat showcases this amazing interactive performance, up close.
“A Wall Apart” starts in 1961 with the three Ostermann brothers — Hans, Kurt and Mickey — living in East Berlin during the Cold War and their struggles with the Wall being built right in between them, their loved ones, and their freedom.
Mickey (Holden Smith), the youngest brother, is on the rock ‘n’ roll bandwagon playing shows with his band, Mickey and the Angels, in West Berlin. His brother Kurt (Michael Scott Johnson) also plays in the band but is less committed to the rising musical movement and finds himself a love interest, Esther (Ginger Bess), also from West Berlin.
While Kurt is torn about the current political movements of the German Democratic Republic, the eldest brother Hans (Darren Ritchie) is content to keep his family in East Berlin and serve the German Democratic Republic and enforce the Wall that is being built larger and larger every day.
As the family struggles to see eye to eye, Mickey marries his sweetheart Suzanne (Ashlyn Brooke Anderson) and the family stays together in East Berlin with their aunt, Tanté (Mary Fanning Driggs).
As crossing the Wall becomes illegal, Kurt and Esther are separated and Mickey can no longer play with his band. The family struggles in East Berlin as their liberties are stripped from them. The story continues to follow both the good and tragic events for the next 28 years as the Berlin Wall stands.
The sold-out opening show hooked the audience upon arrival when entering the immersive backstage theater, now transformed to 1960’s Berlin, moody and still reminiscent of past war scars.
The Bunker, an old war bunker which had been transformed into a bar in West Berlin, is where much of the story takes place and with the unique stage set, the audience feels as if they are a part of the story.
The performances by both the local Utah talent, as well as the Broadway veterans were strong and believable, and each song was sung with passion and intensity. Kurt and Esther’s songs, “Meet Me in the Middle” and the title track “A Wall Apart” were both beautiful and endearing love ballads, while Mickey and Suzanne’s sweet love song “Do You Mind If I Adore You?” was a refreshing contrast from the fun, high energy song and dance numbers such as “Our City” and “Shake It.”
Not only did the songs shine, but the choreography also impressed the viewers with every movement being beautifully intentional and adding vivacity to the story.
“A Wall Apart” is an engaging performance that the Grand Theatre is lucky to be hosting in its premiere. Not only is it entertaining, but also a poignant metaphor for current movements and politics that are dividing people across the world in the present day.
It makes one think about what truly matters and feel hopeful for the future as we glance back to The Berlin Wall, a symbol of division and restraint, and how it was overcome with a demand for peace, love, and freedom.
For tickets, visit the Grand Theatre box office or call 801-957-3322.
Photos by Scott Fineshriber